List of posts

Interview: Robert Silverberg

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Jud: Our community loves to discuss the beginnings of their romance with comic books and science fiction literature. Our childhood obsessions are sort of the base of the pyramid for all of us. Were you a fan of comic books as a boy? 

Robert: Of course. My comic-book era covers ages six through ten or so, which is roughly equivalent to the years of World War II.   But I was also reading prose books from a very early age.  Eventually they came to have more to offer me than the adventures of Superman or Batman.  The paperback boom was just beginning when the war ended in 1945, Pocket Books and the American version of Penguin Books as the pioneers, and when it did I shifted quickly from comic books to the very tempting 25-cent paperback books. (My Aunt Mary was very good about slipping me quarters to buy paperbacks.)  But between 1941 and 1945 or so I read all the big comic books, the ones that now sell for millions of dollars, and, no, I didn’t keep my copies and retire on the proceeds of their sale years later.

Jud: Can you recall the first comic book you ever read that stayed with you? 

Robert: The one that had the biggest impact on me was PLANET COMICS, around 1942, which set me on the path to science fiction.  I had already discovered s-f through the Buck Rogers comic strip that ran in one of the Sunday newspapers, but it was PLANET COMICS that really got me hooked.

Jud: Strange question, but where did you find it? Sometimes, the place where we unearthed the initial treasure says a lot about who we were and who we developed into.

Robert: Sorry, no.  More than 75 years ago and I just don’t remember.   I do remember buying my first science-fiction magazine, in 1948, on a newsstand near my school in Brooklyn.

Jud: What about the first Speculative Fiction novel that made you stare off into the distance for hours? 

Robert: H.G. Wells, THE TIME MACHINE.  I was ten or eleven.

Jud: Were you the isolated kid that devoured stacks of books or did you have a "tribe" that you spent time with, developing a taste for what you did and didn't like? 

Robert:  I was an only child, as was the norm during the Great Depression, and I was pretty much of a loner as a small boy.  I had playmates, of course, but only children aren’t very big on sharing, and when it came to reading, which, of course, is a solitary pastime, I withdrew to my own room and made no effort to discuss what I was reading with others my age.   Later, when I was twelve or thirteen and had discovered science fiction, I became much more sociable: I found others who shared my tastes, and we loaned each other magazines, talked about what we were reading, etc.  And from there it was an easy move into the worldwide community that is science-fiction fandom in my teens.

Jud: Sometimes, the mechanics of your work are as fascinating as the work itself. Neil Gaiman writes everything in beat up notebooks and then just transcribes it all into a computer when it's completed. Harlan Ellison still bashes away with two fingers at an old manual typewriter, carbon copies and white-out spilling everywhere. It's hard to imagine you writing by hand considering the mountainous amount of work you produced from the pulps to the paperbacks to the fully realized novels. What was your system and did it change drastically based on the advancement of technology?

Robert: I would make a brief outline on the back of an old envelope and start typing away.  Generally I would do just one draft, a sheet of white paper, a sheet of carbon paper, a sheet of yellow second paper, and read it through and make corrections, if necessary, by hand.   For more demanding markets I would do a first draft on scrap sheets and then type out a second draft, which again I would correct by hand before turning it in.  I was a touch typist, and a good one, but it was still a lot of hammering away, and in 1982, after undergoing the interminable ordeal of typing several drafts of a 900-page manuscript (LORD OF DARKNESS) I happily converted to working on a computer.  My old typewriter still sits on a desk in my office but it’s there simply as an artifact.  

Jud: Speaking of technology, I'm interested in your take on something in particular. My daughter has been making her way through the classics we all devoured so long ago. It's a pleasure to watch her discover the source material for all of the television and film she and her friends bombard themselves with every day. Recently, she set down an old H.G Wells book she was reading, stormed into the kitchen and announced, "Scientists didn't create the escalator, H.G Wells did!" We then debated the idea of whether writers could take credit as co-creators if their idea inspired scientists to bring those idea into reality. So many of the concepts you came up with in your books turned into practical things we use in our everyday lives that were fantastical ideas when you wrote them. 

Robert: I’m a storyteller, not an inventor.  I’m always amused when something I’ve written about in a story turns up as a real-world device or concept — my 1964 story “The Pain Peddlers” may have invented the reality TV show, which is not exactly something I ought to be proud of, and a lot of my stories back then offhandedly mention gadgets that we actually use today.  But I have no illusions about the distinction between making something up and really inventing it.  It’s one thing to say, casually, “Beam me up, Scotty” and another thing entirely to do the heavy lifting involved in building the device that makes the beaming-up possible.

Jud: What are your thoughts on this? Is "Speculative Fiction" and "Science Fiction" one and the same or does one inform the other?

Robert: They are the same thing.  I think “Speculative Fiction” sounds a bit uppity, and I always refer to the field in which I wrote as “Science Fiction,” but I think “speculative fiction” is actually a more appropriate term, since there isn’t much science in a lot of science-fiction but the best stuff always deals in thoughtful  “what-if” conceptualization, even if it’s not very gadgety.

Jud: Have you marveled over the years when something you dreamed up on the page actually appeared in your living room? 

Robert: Many times.  But when it goes out of whack I generally have to call a technician to fix it for me.

Jud: You're known to be a sort of scholar among your contemporaries. Many of the greatest science fiction/fantasy writers of your generation had very limited education or training. They just fell into a time when there was a hunger for short stories and a fascination with the future by a culture trying to define itself. The idea that there were paperback vending machines in gas and train stations is almost impossible for the average young reader to imagine. 

Robert: Most of my contemporary colleagues were older than I was, because I got such an early start as a writer, and so their lives were affected by the Depression and then World War II in a way that mine wasn’t.  My adolescence was spent in prosperous peacetime and so I had a chance to go to college, a very good one, and I was much the better off for it as a writer.   But very few of the other s-f writers of my era had that chance.  Isaac Asimov had a college education, of course, but he had to fight very hard to get into the school I went to because of the anti-Semitic quotas of his day, fifteen years ahead of mine.  Fred Pohl didn’t even finish high school, not that that kept him from being one of the greatest of s-f writers.   Heinlein was educated to be a naval officer.  A lot of others got an involuntary military education when they were pulled into the armed services for World War II without an opportunity for college.  I’m happy to have had the education I had, and I’ve put it to good use in my work, but a really determined writer can manage to pick up whatever knowledge he needs on his own, if he has to.

Jud: Do you think we've lost something to the computer screen or has it opened up new worlds for young readers? 

Robert: The computer is a miracle.  Google alone is the key to all knowledge, if you know where to look.  And word-processing is an invaluable time-saving tool for writers.

Jud: Has the science that writers like you dreamed into existence done some kind of harm to the practicality of studying words on a piece of paper held in two hands?

Robert: I don’t think so.  Just the other day I saw a report that sales of e-books have leveled off because today’s readers still seem to like old-fashioned printed books.   Gadgets like the Kindle are marvelous conveniences for people who load six or seven fat books on their machine before they go off on a trip, but I don’t think printed words are going to disappear in my lifetime.

Jud: Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Octavia Butler's notebooks that were on display at the Huntington Library. In the margins of one of the pages was a note to herself. It read, "I am not a black, female Science Fiction writer. I am not a black, female writer. I am not a black writer. I am a writer." 

I know that Ellison, Bradbury, Bester and so many other science fiction/fantasy writers struggled with being defined by their genre, not by their ability to craft a story. Even "Dying Inside" was a struggle for many critics and readers to admit was a novel of great importance, not a great science fiction novel. It seems only writers like Vonnegut were able to win over the literary circles that mostly dismissed the speculative fiction arena. 

You own the mantle of Grand Master of Science Fiction. You've won four Hugo Awards. Six Nebulas. You've written hundreds of science fiction stories. Literally millions of words on the page. Clearly, you're among a handful of the greatest science fiction/fantasy writers in history. 

Robert: Octavia Butler had special problems because she belonged to a bunch of minorities that were clamoring for special attention, and so people kept labeling her with her special identities.  No doubt she was black and female and wrote science fiction, but the main point about her was that she wrote, and wrote well.  I happen to be Jewish, but that’s no big deal in science fiction, which has produced Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Robert Sheckley, Harlan Ellison, Avram Davidson, Stanley G. Weinbaum, and a slew of others.  Otherwise I am white and male, so I don’t have to deal with identity politics.   When someone asks me my professional background, I say “science-fiction writer.”  If pressed, I let it be known that I wrote a lot of other things besides science fiction, but a science-fiction writer is what I set out to become when I was sixteen or so, and that is what I did become, and (unlike Vonnegut, who was a mainstream writer who wrote some pretty good science fiction, and unlike Olivia Butler, who really was a science-fiction writer but didn’t like being pushed into categories), I have no problem with identifying myself as a science-fiction writer.

Jud: Is there a quiet part of you that wonders about an alternate universe where Robert Silverberg had the same success in a strictly fiction genre, void of spaceships and alien races and brain transference? Just grounded stories about humans and their relationships here on earth? Would there even be a difference between the two men?

Robert: I don’t think so.  A lot of my best science fiction crosses over into mainstream fiction (DYING INSIDE, for example, or BOOK OF SKULLS), but there is always a science-fiction element lurking somewhere in it (telepathy in one, immortality in the other).  DOWNWARD TO THE EARTH, all about aliens and group minds and extraterrestrial life, is certainly science fiction, but Joseph Conrad used much of that book’s other themes a century and a quarter ago in “Heart of Darkness,” and nobody thinks of it as s-f.  I don’t know whether I would have had the same success if I had set out to be a straight mainstream writer.  It never occurred to me to try.

Jud: I've interviewed many genre writers who surprise me with their fiction recommendations for their readership. Crime Noir masters recommending Charles Dickens and masters of the horror genre recommending Peter Pan. Much has been discussed about Downward to the Earth being an homage in some way to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Was his work inspirational to you?

Robert: It certainly was inspirational to me, as I make clear by borrowing one of that story’s most important characters to be a prominent figure in my own.  In 1968 I visited Kenya, where I learned about colonialism (and elephants), and “Heart of Darkness” had had a powerful impact on me ever since I discovered it when I was about sixteen. And the following year it was an obvious next move to translate the Conrad novella into a science-fiction novel by setting my colonialized region on another planet and making the elephants into considerably different but still elephantine creatures.  

Robert: Every young writer should know the work of Conrad, one of the most important writers of the early twentieth century. He should know Joseph Campbell, too — I drew on his thinking as I was constructing LORD VALENTINE’S CASTLE — but neither one of them was a science-fiction author, of course.

Jud: Even more importantly, if you could choose a reading direction for young, budding science fiction writers to find inspiration, where would you send them?

Robert: Everywhere. They should read everything they could  — a lot of science fiction, of course, but also all of the classics of world literature, and as much scientific material as they can absorb.   It all will be of use eventually,

Jud: With this graphic novel adaptation, Philippe Thirault (writer) and Laura Zucchini (art) had to distill 250 pages of your novel into a 108 page sequential art format. John Irving talked about adapting his novel "Cider House Rules" for film and how he had to distill the emotion and breadth of his book into essentially a one chapter story for the screen. But he also said that it stood on its own apart from the book (and won the Academy Award for best screenplay). I'd like to think people reading this adaptation would be inspired to run out and read the novel. The one without pictures! 

Maybe that's what adaptation into other forms might be useful for? Not so much replacement as inspiration to go back to the source material?

Robert: I think they did a brilliant job.   They used the underlying concepts of my novel to create something that is powerful in its own right.   I don’t think that the purpose of graphic novels is to send people back to the source material, but I certainly hope that it happens.

Jud: Surprisingly, there have been very few adaptations of your work into television, film and comic book form. Is this by choice? Are you protective of your work and how it's presented to the public? 

Robert: Not at all.  I give the adapters free rein — my book is my book, their graphic novel or film is their graphic novel or film, and they are independent entities, I don’t interfere in the adaptations. That there have been so few movie or TV adaptations of my work is an artifact of the weird way those industries work, and I have no control over that.  There has not been a time in the past fifty years when some novel or story of mine has not been under option for a film or TV show — six of them are under option right now, including DOWNWARD TO THE EARTH — but though several of them have come right up to the brink of production, only a couple of them have actually made it to the screen.  It’s frustrating, but there’s nothing I can do about it.   I cash the option checks and hope that something will eventually happen with the project, but usually there is some upheaval among the studio executives, everything in the works gets canceled, and that is that.

Jud: I know you've mostly stopped writing on a regular basis and you're enjoying a well-earned retirement with your wife and your garden. 

But...are there moments when you're watering the flowers or strolling in your neighborhood or just sitting and re-reading a favorite classic that you daydream about a story left untold? Maybe the seed of an idea that might still be planted? I find it hard to believe that a man who has spent almost every moment of his adult life bringing fantastical ideas to the page just stops having stories to tell.

Robert: I’m 83 years old and have written enough to fill whole bookcases with my work.  Writing is hard work and at my age I don’t want to go on with it.  As you say, I’d rather be watering the garden, or strolling around in my neighborhood (or in London, or Paris, or Rome), or sitting on the porch re-reading some beloved book.  I do still get story ideas, of course, and now and then I even make a note of them, but it ends there.  I doubt that I will ever write more fiction.  Very few writers my age have stayed with it into their eighties, and very few of those have produced anything worthwhile at an advanced age.  (Very few have even lived that long.)  The mental machinery still works, but the will to put it into action is no longer there.  I have no regrets whatever about that, since most of my work is still in print and people still read it (and adapt it into other forms!)  If I were altogether forgotten, I might be motivated to get some new material out there before the public, but that’s not the case.  I’m enjoying my retirement.

Downward to the Earth transcends on February 14, 2018 with an MSRP of $29.95 / £22.99

Tags: Interview

Interview: Valentin Sécher on The Metabaron

Friday, October 7, 2016

The following interview was conducted during the creation of The Metabaron: Book 1: The Techno-Admiral & The Anti-Baron. Thanks to Valentin Sécher for answering a few questions. 


The Metabarons is a classic of the science fiction genre. How did you jump into this revered universe created by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Gimenez?

I had to find a balance between respecting the visual style established by Gimenez and my personal take on the universe. That way, the readers will find both a new universe, and places and characters with which they are familiar. But they'll also often be able to enjoy a new style of drawing, modeled on Meta-Bunker but completely reworked. 

This new book is subtitled "The Techno-Admiral and The Anti-Baron". Techno-Admiral is also the name of the new enemy of Metabaron. 

Wilhelm-100 is the character which I needed to pay the most attention to when making this first volume, above all because of his gigantic size and his mechanical prosthetics, which had to be believable. Therefore, I chose to portray him moving about like a gorilla, giving him a striking appearance and providing the reader with an image with which they can identify unconsciously. 

Incidentally, this new series will involve 3 artists. Can you tell us a little bit about this collaboration?

Each artist is in charge of a different diptych. Personally, drawing the first book (Book 1: The Techno-Admiral and the Anti-Baron) put me up against the exciting challenge of redefining the Metabarons universe in my own way, and to set the tone for the continuation of the saga, by reworking the appearance of the planets or the vehicles, for example. I also work constantly with Niko Henrichon; the artist of the second book (Book 2: The Techno-Cardinal and The Transhuman available March 2017). We exchange plates and each of us draws inspiration from the other's work in order to bring this universe to life as the fruit of our two visions. In fact, I even drew some parts of the first volume by looking at his sketches, which were themselves inspired by some of mine! 


It seems that you had to rush a bit to draw the second half of Book 1, how did you take on this new challenge?

Just like the first one. The difference this time is that I made the storyboard first and that I had to go a lot faster, particularly on the coloring process. This way of working made things easier for (co-writer) Jerry Frissen and I to focus more on the narrative, to improve the reading experience and to make the layout of the album smoother. I had less time to fine-tune it compared to the first volume, but this second album is more polished. The perk of doing the storyboard all at the same time and not bit by bit is that I can take a step back from the album, look at it from a distance, and know where to concentrate my efforts. For example, I could anticipate the combat scene. I knew that drawing the background and the armor would take me a while and that I would need to save time with the pages that came before.
Was the combat scene the most difficult one to create then?

It was the most difficult, but at the same time it was one of the most interesting scenes to do! The least enjoyable scene to do was the parliament scene. It had lots of characters, a quite restrictive design and lots of straight lines. That's not the kind of drawing I enjoy.

But are the spaceships not very geometrical as well? 

Yeah, in theory they're very geometrical but I give them more of an organic feel. I tried to draw spaceships with insect heads. The more I draw, the less I like straight lines!


Did you change the way you work, compared to the first album?

The biggest change on the second album is the way I use the ink. I use a lot more black now, which lets me save some time when I have to add color, because the black areas are in shadow, so you don't really have to go back to them. Sometimes I go back to them when I put the color on top, a bit like I would do traditionally with paint. And having a darker inking also allows me to create more contrasting moods. At the start of the album, Tetanus is depressed. He goes outside, he's crying and there is a very dark mood. The background serves as a metaphor for his feelings and the state of mind of the characters. I try to adapt my colors to show that.

How did you prepare yourself to allow Niko Henrichon the responsibility of drawing Book 2: The Techno-Cardinal and The Transhuman? 

Each time I send my pages to the publisher, I give Niko a copy, and vice-versa. We send each other notes. In general, since I've done it before him, he bases his designs on the ones that I did in the first book, but often I'm inspired by what he does because his work is brilliant. We exchange a lot, and he's someone I get along with very well.

What's coming after The Metabaron Book 1? 

Well, Les Humanoïdes Associés have just asked me to make Book 3! The Metabaron universe is one in which I feel comfortable and which I'm starting to master. I've loved doing Book 1; I'm starting to feel at home, which is really cool!

The Metabaron: Book 1: The Techno-Admiral & The Anti-Baron arrives in bookshops on October 18/19, 2016 with an MSRP of $29.95/£20.99

Tags: Interview

Interview: John DiFool

Friday, April 15, 2016

We sat down for an interview with the famous John DiFool to talk about the release of Before The Incal. At the Red Ring, one of the local bars of the lowest levels of the City-Shaft, we stepped with him into a world of memories past–and rightly so. After all, we wanted him to get a bit nostalgic: these are his roots. After the success of The Incal, John transformed into a completely different person. Once a humble and simple man, he is now a far more complex character.


Can you describe what the success of The Incal was like?

It was really unexpected! At first, when Humanoids got in touch with me and said they wanted to create a comic book based on my life, I thought "why not?" but without getting carried away. And then, as the story goes, the public got hooked. In just a few months, I was a huge star! So, naturally, it opened the doors to nightlife…and I was invited to a lot of insane parties. Drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, all three of them looking for one thing – someone to use them...me–if at all possible.

So that's how your "descent into Hell" started…?

Yeah, I fell into a vicious cycle pretty quickly. You know, when everyone and everything opens its arms wide, it's really hard to resist. So, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, I stopped seeing my friends, even Deepo skipped out. My alter ego slowly became my "normal" ego. More than once, I found myself on Suicide Alley, my two feet on the edge of the parapet, staring down…That was when I said to myself "John, you gotta get a grip on yourself."

That's when you found a way to make sense of your life through humanitarian causes.

Completely. I still had to check off the "detox" box though. Three long, sober years spent on Ohar-Lee-Sheen, the Golden Planet's moon, where all the biggest stars in the galaxy go to rehab. Now, I won't touch a single illegal substance. One day, while watching the news, I stumbled across a special report on mutants. The terrible living conditions of those nearly human beings paralyzed me. I knew I had to do something! So, I got to work and I created a foundation–the DiFool Association For Unrespected Creatures (the D.A.F.U.C.), to champion their cause.

A rarity, indeed, but you were introduced as an Aristo! How and why were you accepted into that caste?

I should first mention that the Aristos today have nothing in common with the old school Aristos, the ones that are described in The Incal for example. War and rebellion has changed the social landscape and classes today are more inclined to mix. Instead of being a true caste with certain privileges like before, "Aristo" has become an honorary title. The halo is more of an award than a privilege.

Do you still see your old friends?

Unfortunately, besides a round of golf here and there in the Tiger Woods 2000 galaxy with Kill Wolfhead, we've all fallen out of touch. I divorced Luz six years ago to start my life over with a model-goddess in a parallel world. Rumor has it she finally succumbed to Gorgo's passes. I wish them all the happiness possible. I also heard that the Metabaron received the Technobel Peace prize. If you see him, tell him I send my congratulations.

What about Deepo?

After our falling out, we didn't ever really patch things up. But I still get news about him! He left Terra 2014 for a newly discovered planet. Apparently, only concrete seagulls inhabit it! You know Deepo. With his extraordinary charisma and eloquence, it was easy to impose himself as its leader. It seems that now he reigns as master over his new people. I'll probably pay him a visit soon, for nostalgia's sake…and with the hope of reviving our old friendship!

The release of Before The Incal this month tells of the beginning of your adventures. How do you feel? Any last words?

Look, I think all good things have a beginning and an end. Before The Incal follows my adventures from the very depths of Terra 2014 up until the beginning of my relationship with Luz. What a story! I've become a legend; I'd say that it's time to take a step back from my life. It's time to turn the page.  When it comes to realizing a masterpiece, the most important thing is having the will to start, and then the ability to finish it. I've done just that. Now, I'm thinking seriously about getting my Biodriver for the Acquisition of Optimal Transport Techniques (B.A.O.T.T.) license so I can go on a solo trip of the galaxy. I don't know what I'm looking for, but I know what I'm looking for is looking for me. We'll end up meeting one another, eventually.

We certainly hope you do. Thanks, John DiFool!

Tags: Interview

Interviews from The Tipping Point: Boulet

Thursday, February 4, 2016

With the release of The Tipping Point, we had a chance to speak with some of the creators behind the book. Today we interview Boulet, known for his work on Notes, Donjon Zénith, Raghnarok and more.


What was the "tipping point" that lead you to become an artist?

I was a student in an Art School in Strasbourg. I was supposed to participate in a comic contest but I was too lazy and had missed the deadline. So I went out to drink instead. On the way to the pub I bumped into one of my friends, he was going back home to draw his comic for the contest. He told me the deadline had been changed. We still had a few hours left. I went to the pub anyway, drank a lot and decided I would participate too. I drew a page, totally drunk and sent it. I won 3rd place. My page went to an exhibition in the festival. A publisher saw it, and gave me my first job. Which lead to another one, then albums.

All of it because at one precise minute, I bumped into a friend.

What were your initial thoughts when you were approached about this book and the fellow creators with whom you'd be keeping company?

My first reaction was to say "Yes", thinking "this must be a mistake, just act natural. Maybe they think I'm someone else."


Was there ever a "tipping point" in your career when you wished you'd taken "the other path"?

No. I've always done whatever I wanted, I'm incredibly lucky. So I don't have anything to regret professionally. I'm happy with what I'm doing now and everything I've done lead me here, so I don't think I would change anything.
Of course, some of these decisions made huge changes in my personal life and I often wonder "what if I had..." but that's it. It's more curiosity than remorse!

Do you read comics created by authors and artists outside your home country and if so, which ones have inspired you from abroad?

Well, a lot of them. I'm french, so I grew up with LOTS of comics. My biggest influences would probably be Franquin, Moebius, Quino, Gotlib and a lot of others, and as a teenager I discovered manga and was hugely influenced by Otomo, Toriyama, Rumiko Takahashi.


Are there any foreign creators with whom you'd like to collaborate?

I really am more comfortable working alone, that's why I only collaborate with good friends. But I think I'd be ok being "the intern who brings coffee" for people like Eichiro Oda or Otomo. And if a parisian spin-off of "The Walking Dead" is made, I want to draw it. I would love to draw a devastated Paris with zombies everywhere.

Have you ever answered an online email from a Nigerian "millionaire"? (Joke)!

Well, I know a guy who did, it was an incredible story, but it became dangerous at some point (people calling him at home, menacing to come get him), so I wouldn't risk it.

You are very active on internet. Is your story linked to that fact?

Yes. I'm a big fan of urban legends and scary stories. The Internet is like a giant brain, it can be an incredible thinking tool, with a huge memory and powerful thinking/creating skills, but it also has a tendency to be delirious and to dream a lot. It's like a giant, crazy, confused genius brain.


You mentioned wanting to draw a Parisian version of The Walking Dead, how would YOU survive a zombie apocalypse?

Well, Paris has advantages. I would go to Montmartre (high ground, tiny roads easy to barricade). Or even better, I would go to the south of France, I know some fortified medieval villages: safe hill with big walls in a really low-density population, surrounded by forests with a lot of animals. With a few survivors we'd be able to set decoys and boobytraps for zombies around. (Like: put music really loud on the side of a cliff so they'd just fall over and over again). Using the natural boundaries (rivers and hills) we would be able to secure a large region. Then there would be security measures like: everyone would have to lock themselves to sleep, so if someone dies during their sleep they can't go out and bite anyone, stuff like that.

People in this comic are so dumb. Oh Rick, why didn't you dig a trench with spikes around the prison? You had time and people. Think "medieval", goddammit.


What comics/graphic novels/bande dessinee are you reading currently?

I'm reading "Saga", which is weird and beautiful and new, I love it. I'm reading "One Punch Man" and I'm really curious to see where this is going. I'm reading "Carnets de Santé Foireuse" by Pozla, it's an incredibly beautiful book about the author fighting Crohn's disease. I'm reading "LastMan" by Bastien Vives, Balak, and Mikael Sanlaville because It's everything I love in comics made by people I like.

What is next for Boulet?

Two big projects:

-Infinity8, a series of 8 books directed by Lewis Tronheim and Olivier Vatine and published by Rue de Sèvres. It will be a giant Space Opera with a lot of artists participating. I'll be drawing the seventh volume.

-Bolchoi Arena: my new series, I write and my friend Aseyn draws, it will be a long story taking place in a not too distant future. It's about space, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, etc... It will be my first long project with all the themes I love. First volume in 2017 (first quarter) with Delcourt.

And maybe other stuff if I still manage to find some free time!

For more on Boulet, check out his blog at bouletcorp.com where his comic strips appear in French, English, and Japanese. The Tipping Point is now available on our store and wherever Humanoids titles are carried. Check out previous interviews with other creators by clicking here.

Tags: Interview

Interviews from The Tipping Point: Frederik Peeters

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

With the impending release of The Tipping Point, we had a chance to speak with some of the creators behind the book. Today we interview Frederik Peeters, known for his work on KOMA, Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, Aâma and more.


What was the "tipping point" that lead you to become an artist?

Every child draws and creates stories. And then they stop. I did not. It would be interesting to think about the tipping point that leads every child to stop being an artist.

Was there ever a "tipping point" in your career when you wished you'd taken "the other path"?

Yes, probably the making of, and then success of, Blue Pills, almost 15 years ago. It changed everything, from my technique of drawing and writing, to self-confidence. It allowed me to be totally free and independent.


Do you read comics created by authors and artists outside of your home country and if so, which ones have inspired you from abroad?

My culture is mainly european. I've been raised with Hergé and Mœbius. But then I read thousands of things from all around the world, from underground fanzines to worldwide successful manga. And everything is an influence. Today I read a british contemporary novel, I cooked carrot soup, I watched an old french movie, I went to the swimming pool, I slept and dreamt a little bit, surfed shortly on tumblr, and chatted with my daughter about different subjects. All this was inspiration.

Are there any foreign creators with whom you'd like to collaborate?

I did collaborate with people and will again in the future. It depends on opportunities and fate in a way. I don't dream or expect things to happen. I just do things, one after another.

How did you come up with the designs of the monsters in KOMA?

It all started with one single drawing. A little girl standing in front of a huge black monster. The design of the little girl did change a bit, but the monster, never. I guess it was ok from the beginning. It was simple and effective. In fact it is not a real monster in a way, it's almost like a symbol, a shadow. There must be room for the reader to project fears and emotions on him.

What inspired your story for "The Tipping Point"?

It's a sort of variation, almost an homage, to a novel I read 10 years ago, called Habitus, by James Flint. One of many characters was Laïka, who had survived, mutated with the capsule she was in, and was keeping an eye on humanity from above. I decided to make her come back on earth.


If KOMA were ever turned into a film, who would you like to see play Adidas, her father, and the 'Monster'?

Real kid actors are very annoying most of the time. Adidas should be a kind of female young Antoine Doisnel. A type of kid that has just disappeared. It should be possible to go back in time and pick up an authentic street kid in Paris or London, or Liverpool, in the 50's. Many good actors could play the father. But I would love something a bit old-fashioned, like Jack Lemmon's performances, light and witty and funny, but full of humanity and tenderness at the same time. For the monster, a nice costume designed by the guys who worked on Pan's Labyrinth should fit perfectly.

Image from KOMA

What's next for Frederik Peeters?

A strange gay-friendly western is gonna be published in March by Casterman, and I'm working now with a writer on a contemporary fantastic tale, a family story with fears and secrets and monsters. A reflection on European ancient myths and nightmares. A kind of modern and adult Koma if you will. Follow me at my website for more on what's coming: frederikpeeters.tumblr.com

Thanks to Frederik Peeters for answering some questions. The Tipping Point will be available February 3, 2016 on our store and wherever Humanoids titles are carried. Check out previous interviews with other creators by clicking here.

Tags: Interview

Interviews from The Tipping Point: Paul Pope

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

With the impending release of The Tipping Point, we had a chance to speak with some of the creators behind the book. Today we interview Paul Pope, known for his work on THB, Batman: Year 100, Battling Boy, and more.


What was the "tipping point" that lead you to become an artist?

I've been drawing and painting since before I can remember, I always loved cartoons and costumes colors and science fiction. I loved music and rock'n'roll. I guess I got dedicated to the calling around sixteen, when young people have to start thinking about what they are going to do with themselves for the rest of it. I remember reading Herman Hesse and Camus around then, and grasping an adolescent yet urgent and deeply felt sense of existentialism. There isn't much time in life.  Love and beauty, invention, self-expression and self-respect are all human possibilities. Might as well dedicate yourself to what you love. For me it was in deciding to find a voice through drawing and painting, and more specifically, the graphic arts.


What were your initial thoughts when you were approached about this book and the fellow creators with whom you'd be keeping company?

I immediately wanted to be a part of this. The line up is very impressive, from Bilal on down. I have firmly stood for global comics, using graphic storytelling as an international language, and the scope of this project was very exciting. I grew up reading great European comics and later, lived and worked in Japan, I am now firmly rooted in New York City, so it felt like a proper calling.

Was there ever a "tipping point" in your career when you wished you'd taken "the other path"?

Yes, i suppose so. There was a point where I consciously chose to pursue visual art and not music. Later, comics over academics. I suppose life is a series of graduations from personal tipping points. Not sure I could point to just one. "Instinct keeps me runnin' to keep one eye open," as Iggy pop said.


Do you read comics created by authors and artists outside of the US and if so, which ones have inspired you from abroad?

I am attracted to classical drawing techniques and strong composition infused with a strong personal style. This goes for all the arts. In comics, I always return to Jack Kirby, Mezeries, Mœbius, and Alex Toth. Minetaro Mochizuki and Suehiro Maruo. Robert Crumb. Lorenzo Mattotti...so many... And that's leaving out most of the rest of the world...

Are there any foreign creators with whom you'd like to collaborate?

it would depend on the circumstances, but Sam Hiti, an American artist, comes to mind. I have worked with Spanish artist David Rubin, and hope to again.


Your story has a "fairy tale" element about it, with the repetition of the threat to the main protagonist. Was that deliberate?

yes. Consort... is a dreamlike allegory or personal myth, rooted in the story of Parvati, the Hindu goddess, as filtered through Kipling and Jack London. I am intrigued by the idea in the incarnation myths of India that a god or goddess can have many names and aspects, some loving and creative, some destructive and life-altering, always changing and transforming. Parvati has many other names and aspects, she is not always what she is taken for. Nor, for that matter, are her adversaries.

What went into your process for your story on The Tipping Point?

I think it's a very classic early 20th century American-style short adventure story, which hopefully buttresses these other more arcane elements. I am very glad to have the chance to create this story, built out of elements gathered for my other projects, Battling Boy and Psychenaut. I had a hunch doing something with a sense of "high pulp adventure" might be a good move for this project. I began building upon the image of a sinking life raft with two people onboard, chained together. The ancient shark appeared next, and it went from there.

What is next for Paul Pope?

I am primarily working on the second Battling Boy book for :01, and a book about dreaming, called Psychenaut, for Dargaud. As well as a cover for Thousand Faces from Humanoids (Coming soon).

Thanks to Paul Pope for answering some questions. The Tipping Point will be available February 3, 2016 on our store and wherever Humanoids titles are carried. Check out previous interviews with other creators by clicking here.

Tags: Interview

Interviews from The Tipping Point: Eddie Campbell

Friday, January 22, 2016

With the impending release of The Tipping Point, we had a chance to speak with some of the creators behind the book. Today we interview Eddie Campbell, known for his work on From Hell, Alec: The Years Have Pants, Bacchus and more.


What was the "tipping point" that lead you to become an artist?

I forget stuff like that. And so I dredge up some earlier answer to the question? and I can no longer remember whether it's true or I made it up. I say that knowing well that most people reading this still have their brains kept in an orderly manner and have no notion of what I'm talking about. One day I noticed somebody had scribbled their name on the comic I was reading. At first I was annoyed that some bastard had been rummaging in my schoolbag. But then when I zoomed in close I judged that the scribbled name was part of the printed stuff and not an extraneous addition as I had first thought. In this instant I deduced that the story on the paper had been thought up and drawn by a person and was not a window into another universe as I first imagined. It was a crushing blow in a way, discovering that the story wasn't real, but in another way it was liberating because I thought I could be the bastard who can put it over on some other people who would think it was real. it gave me something to aim for in life. A kind of power over people. Such is the naivete of childhood.

What were your initial thoughts when you were approached about this book and the fellow creators with whom you'd be keeping company?

Again, the reader has no idea of the permanent weight of insecurity that the author/artist lives under. The first thought I had was that I was not yet out of work. And then look, all these other great guys are still hanging in there too. Paul PopeFrederik Peeters...Taiyo Matsumoto... "What makes us do it?" I thought to myself. Is it the glory? The money? There's no explaining it.


Was there ever a "tipping point" in your career when you wished you'd taken "the other path".

Oh yeah, I get that every day.

Do you read comics created by authors and artists outside of the US and if so, which ones have inspired you from abroad?

There are few people in Spain I've been keeping an eye on, including Paco Roca and Alfonso Zapico. They have an exciting scene happening over there. Or so it looks from far away. I'm sure somebody somewhere thinks there's an exciting scene happening in my living room.


Are there any foreign creators with whom you'd like to collaborate?

Since you mention it, I'm working on a book with the American novelist, my sweetie Audrey Niffenegger, in which I'm adapting to comics form a number of her short stories. Does America count as foreign? Do I count as British, after living in Australia for 29 years?

What do you feel are the primary differences between your solo work and collaborating with others, such as Alan Moore?

Well, I've always got something to say, so if I'm illustrating somebody else's story I have to keep quiet and do the right thing by it. I'll get to do my own story next week. I can be thinking about that while I'm filling in blacks or drawing bricks.


What do you think about your comics work being adapted into other media?

I quite like the idea in the abstract. It can be done. Finding people you can trust is the challenge.

Thanks to Eddie Campbell for answering some questions. The Tipping Point will be available February 3, 2016 on our store and wherever Humanoids titles are carried. Check out previous interviews with other creators by clicking here.

Tags: Interview

Interviews from The Tipping Point: Bob Fingerman

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

With the impending release of The Tipping Point, we had a chance to speak with some of the creators behind the book. Today we interview Bob Fingerman, known for his work on Minimum Wage.


What was the "tipping point" that lead you to become an artist?

Just being introduced to a drawing implement, I think. Pen, pencil, crayon. Whatever it was. I believe I was hardwired to draw. Though I never met him (he died long before I was born), my maternal grandfather was an artist. My mother's sister (who also was gone before I showed up) was an artist. 

What were your initial thoughts when you were approached about this book and the fellow creators with whom you'd be keeping company?

Well, honestly, first I was very flattered and pleased, but then second I needed the concept explained to me a few times before I could come up with something apropos. But once I got a handle on it the story flowed out pretty easily.


Do you read comics created by authors and artists outside of the US and if so, which ones have inspired you from abroad?

Mostly. The works of Mœbius, Nicolas de Crécy, Philippe Caza, Jacques Tardi, Francois Boucq, Enki Bilal, Hergé, Frank Margerin, Serge Clerc, Yves Chaland all motivate me. And of more recent vintage, Stan & Vince, Miguelanxo Prado and Julien/CDM. There are more, but the work of those artists is very inspiring.

Are there any foreign creators with whom you'd like to collaborate?

I would love to write something for some of them, sure, but they don't need my input. 


How do you feel about your series Minimum Wage reaching audiences in other languages such as French?

It's always been my goal to penetrate the French comics/BD marketplace. Obviously, from my list in the previous answer, most of my favorite creators are French. And to be published by Humanoids/Les Humanoïdes Associés, with its deep history, was a real thrill.

What went into your process for your story on The Tipping Point?

Playing with themes I like and working back from a punchline. Writing a story like mine is like writing a joke, so often I work first from the initial setup, but then back from the end. 


Is there life after death?

You're asking a hardcore atheist, so my answer is an unequivocal no. But it's fun to play with as a theme. 

What is next for Bob Fingerman?

I wish I knew. I'm playing with some new ideas, more genre-oriented. Maybe something longer set in Hell. Maybe a barbarian comedy. I don't know. But I enjoy the luxury of possibilities.


Thanks to Bob Fingerman for answering some questions. The Tipping Point will be available February 3, 2016 on our store and wherever Humanoids titles are carried. Check out previous interviews with other creators by clicking here.

Tags: Interview